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Christians back saffron party; prominent Catholic leader joins BJP in Bengal

WebdeskMar 11, 2021, 12:00 AM IST

Christians back saffron party; prominent Catholic leader joins BJP in Bengal

New Delhi: Showing for once that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inclusive policies guided by the principle of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Viswas' continue to attract minorities including Christians into the party fold. Prominent Christian leader Father Rodney Borneo of Calcutta Archdiocese joined the saffron outfit on Tuesday, March 9 in presence of senior leaders including state unit president Dilip Ghosh. "You are welcome to our party.....," said Dilip Ghosh welcoming the new entrant. Sources said Father Borneo tendered resignation from the priesthood to Archbishop Thomas D’Souza. "....I plan to work for the BJP," said Father Borneo, who has also tendered resignation as principal of Loyola High School, a popular missionary-run educational institute. BJP leaders said Father Borneo was also close to Trinamool Congress leadership and had accompanied Mamata Banerjee during her visit to the Vatican to attend St. Teresa’s canonization in September 2016. Father Borneo is a known face among Christian minorities in Kolkata’s Kidderpore area. Christians are a microscopic minority in Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal but they have a sizable presence in some pockets. Moreover, due to their educational background, Christians can influence voters, especially among the educated lot. Of the estimated 91,276,115 population, Christian population in the state is mere 6,50,000 making it less than one per cent (only 0.72 percent). In Kerala, recently the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church urged its followers to vote for BJP leader R Balashankar. It was also given out that Balashankar had made the right and timely intervention and could help save a 1,000-year-old church in Kerala’s Alappuzha district from demolition. Balashankar is seeking election from the Chenganuru constituency, the seat held now by the CPI-M. It is worth mentioning that in January this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met three eminent Indian cardinals - Cardinal Oswald Gracias of the Latin-rite Church, Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, and Cardinal Baselios Cleemis of the Syro-Malankara Church — denoting BJP re-establishing strong links with Christians. The BJP runs a coalition regime in Christian-stronghold Nagaland along with the regional party, NDPP. In 2018 assembly polls, the saffron party could win as many as 12 seats of the 20 assemblies it fought for 60-member House.

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